Wow, what a fast month. Our almost post Covid lives are busier and time has been flying by.
Andreas and I received our first Covid vaccine shot at the beginning of the month. Andreas was happy to find a pharmacy close enough to travel by bike.
The garden has been our focus this April. With the sunny, new property our possibilities for growing healthy fruits and vegetables increased. We spent weekends creating new beds, weeding and watching the plants grow during our work breaks.
Andreas’ apple trees are growing leaves and he is surprised how fast his new rhubarb grows with lots of sunlight. We are also growing herbs and flowers and the 100 or so tulips we planted all over both properties last fall bloomed. He is still trying to find room to plant 50 strawberry plants he ordered. We have them in garden beds and pots. During his election officer training he found a woman willing to trade a rose bush for a few.
Our garden is in full bloom right now with Andreas’ thirty or so azaleas in many different colors. I love photographing them. Instead of participating with our garden on the Newark Garden Tour as we did last year, I am chairing the committee this year. The Newark Arts Alliance has six beautiful gardens lined up for people to tour on May 22nd.
Andreas is working hard to finish a paper with two colleagues. One is visiting from Israel to help wrap it up. This document has been months in the making and I’m sure the three of them are happy after they submitted it to a journal for peer review.
I’ve had a lot of inquiries for art lessons and met with three new students. Many art commissions with deadlines are on the studio table. Stained glass, a drawing of a New York City park for college friends, and a bird house to be painted for an Arts Alliance fundraising event. The shows at the Café and the Cecil County Arts Council are down. I sold some pieces! I will be showing work from both of those shows in a photographer’s studio in Wilmington soon.
May 1st we received our second vaccine shot. Like the first, I had a fever and was very tired. Andreas was tired as well. We have 7 days to go until we are fully vaccinated and we are excited to not worry so much and to be able to visit with vaccinated friends.
January can be a slow, dark month; this was not my experience. We started the month with a New Year’s Day hike in White Clay Creek State Park with friends. Every year I tell myself I will/ should exercise more. Since the middle of the month I’ve been walking three miles every morning with my friends Mary and Colin. I’m still having a hard time matching their speed, they’ve been walking together for the last two years.
The Trashy Women Artist Collective is busy. We took our show down at the Book Place in Oxford, PA at the beginning of the month and set up for a February opening at the Art Den in Rising Sun, MD last week. In the middle of the month we met for a meeting with a sewing project. We exchanged a lot of trash, but didn’t sew much. The meeting did inspire me to sew a new piece for our February show.
Also created in the studio this month were the stained glass award windows for the Delaware Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge. The participants who raise the most money for the organization are presented with a window.
I’m happy to say I sold a painting this month to a coffee shop. This is a broken skateboard I painted in acrylic from a former skateboard shop on Haines Street. (The blue building) I thought it would be nice to turn the street in front of the building into a garden and add goats. Recently the coffee shop, Little Goat moved into the building. I think the painting found a good home there.
My art car is getting older and starting to have some issues, so Andreas and I decided to purchase a more reliable car. We bought a hybrid from friends that I used to work with at a Saturn dealership over a decade ago who now work for Hyundai. We’ve had the car two weeks now and love the 55 mpg. Andreas has synced his phone and figured out the computer, I’m more concerned with driving. Together we’re figuring out new to us technology.
I won a contest at a local art supply store with this photo of the art car in front of the store’s mural.
Teaching is going well. One of my students decided last minute that she wanted to apply for the local art high school so we rushed a portfolio. That was a little stressful but we got through it.
At the end of the month I was invited to show the artwork I created in Germany at the Chapel Street Theater. The event was hosted by the Newark Partnership and was well attended.
January ended on a very happy note as we celebrated the marriage of my cousin Scott and his new wife Robin.
We recently had the pleasure of hosting my freshman college roommate and her family for the weekend in Bremerhaven.
My friend Stefanie and I met thirty-one years ago when we were matched as roommates at LaGrange College in southwestern Georgia. Stefanie was a foreign student from Germany and I was a crazy girl from Delaware.
Surprisingly, I was already friends with her cousin who was studying at the University of Delaware. (Small world) I only attended LaGrange for a year, but Stefanie and I kept in touch. When I was studying Art in Wolverhampton, England in 1991 I visited her and her family in Germany on my spring break and Andreas and I were able to visit her during our travels in Germany Christmas 2017.
Luckily, she is not too far away in Bonn and was able see us with her husband and two girls ages five and eight. The older one loves all animals, especially horses and the younger one loves speed and sport.
We had a wonderful weekend seeing the Harbor through their eyes. The Harbor area was so fun for them we never made it to town.
My Germany bucket/wish list for this sabbatical year is checked off. I created a new body of work, had an art exhibit, and last week I was given the opportunity to speak to five high school art classes. I was also invited to visit their school and interact with the students as they worked on their projects.
Since I’m an art instructor in America and students in Germany study English, I thought it would be fun to visit a class to show them my artwork and have conversations in English. Through my show at Art Impressions Gallery I became friendly with the gallery owner, Fernando Valero who invited me to his garden birthday party. There I met local high school art teacher, Christiane Matthai who teaches at the Geschwister Scholl Schule in Bremerhaven. I told her I was interested in speaking to students and she not only brought her students to my exhibit but invited me to her classroom.
Both experiences were wonderful. At the gallery I spoke about the theme for my show and then a little bit about each work individually. I shared my inspiration for the images and the watercolor and watercolor pencil techniques used in rendering them.
I showed a Power Point presentation that I prepared on the Ship last summer for the scientists about the other art mediums I work in, and about my past artistic and work experiences. I wanted the students to know that I haven’t made a career out of painting old women in diners, I also paint goats on skateboards, make stained glass windows from garbage and drive an Art Car.
I really enjoyed each class. I was curious about the similarities and differences I would observe comparing German kids to American kids. No differences I could see or sense bar one and that was that the German students showed more independence. The teacher was recently sick and I asked her if she had to pay for her substitute like the teachers do in California. She said that that subs are not hired for high school classes. Her students acquired the key for the room, worked independently and cleaned up after themselves. That was shocking to me. I could see how it was possible though after spending time in her classroom. I observed the students set up their projects, work independently when their teacher wasn’t giving them one on one time, and clean up their area. They spoke to each other quietly and worked steadily throughout the long class period without need for redirection.
The German student’s clothing, shoes, hair styles and demeanor were so similar to my students. I told them if I saw them in America I would never guess that they were from Germany unless they spoke to me. It’s interesting how access to the internet is changing design cross culturally. Also, their English vocabulary and pronunciation was very good; better than they think it is.
I feel very lucky to be given this experience and hope to work with Christiane again during our future visits.
Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits new work in Bremerhaven Germany. The artist exhibited seventeen watercolor and colored pencil paintings and thirteen pencil and colored pencil drawings. All artwork was created in an eight-month time span while on sabbatical.
Exhibits in Germany, thirty works created in eight months, watercolor paintings? Who is this person? Me? How did that happen? If someone had read that first paragraph to me two years ago and said that’s going to be you, I wouldn’t have believed them. I would have said that it sounds even more far fetched than some of the goals I set for myself in my sketchbook. If you follow this blog you know how this happened. If not, the cliff note version is that I met a wonderful German/ American Oceanographer just shy of two years ago. We started dating, fell in love moved in together, moved to Germany for a sabbatical, and got married. For the detailed version of that journey see previous posts.
So here I am in Germany for a year and I have the freedom for the first time in my life to dedicate most of my time to creating art, but my studio and supplies are in Newark, Delaware. I can’t paint in acrylics or oils and I can’t create stained glass windows (or can I?) without a large investment in new supplies, and then how do I ship them home? My solution to this first world, artist problem was to switch to watercolors and colored pencils. This worked well on our research trip in the Arctic and has been a wonderful solution to creating new work quickly that is easy to ship and can also fit in a suitcase.
My art goals during my stay in Bremerhaven were to 1. Practice a drawing/ painting skill that I want to improve on for future work, 2. Create a new/full body of work with one theme, in one medium that I can exhibit when I return to the States and 3. Icing on the cake, and a dream, to have a show in Germany.
So, what to paint? The blank tablet of watercolor paper asks, “What will it be, ma’am?” I ask myself what would I like to see on the wall? What do other people want to see on their walls? What’s important to document? After a lot of thought I chose to create dining companions. Portraits were my challenge that needed a lot of practice and I enjoy figure drawings more when the background gives some information. I was also a bit lonely. I chose to paint friends, relatives, people from the newspaper, a few faces from online sources and one self-portrait. If the face was interesting and the figures were in a dining situation, I was ready to paint them.
One theme and all in watercolor with colored pencil. (this is unusual for me) In the few months since I began this project my drawings and paintings have improved with practice which inspires me to keep going.
Now for a show in Germany, I approached a few galleries, some were interested but didn’t have an opening until 2020. By chance I found a gallery close to my neighborhood with an opening in April and I was able to book it. Yay, a show!
Uh oh…now I need to matte and frame thirty pieces of artwork and I can’t bring these frames home to Delaware. The Owner of Art Impressions Gallery saved me the matting costs by applying for and receiving a grant from the city for exhibiting an international artist. For frames I did something I would never consider doing in Newark and that was to purchase all the frames from IKEA with plexi windows instead of glass.
(I can hear my artist friends and my framer 4000 miles away screaming NO!!! in unison.) Those were not easy to transport on the 505 bus. I will donate them to the gallery or a school when I leave for student artists.
We had the show opening on April 27th 2019, it was a success. Four of the paintings were sold through commission, three sold through social media before the show and two sold opening night. Framing costs covered.
The local newspaper covered the show twice and I’m looking forward to two art classes from the local high school to visit the show next week.
My next goal is to complete at least three more paintings before mid-July and to apply for a grant through the Delaware Division of the Arts.